Second Reading Speech By Mrs Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport On The Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2013 at The Parliament, 21 Oct 201321 Oct 2013
Mdm Speaker, I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
2. The Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2013 comprises three amendments. Two amendments will give legislative effect to property tax changes announced in the 2013 Budget Statement, while one amendment arose from the periodic review of our property tax regime.
3. A public consultation exercise on the draft bill was held from 25 July to 14 August this year. MOF has evaluated the feedback received and where relevant, incorporated them in the final Bill. I will now explain the three amendments in the Bill.
4. First, the property tax refund for vacant residential and non-residential properties will be removed. Currently, there are provisions for owners of some vacant properties to apply for property tax refunds, such as for those undergoing repairs to render them fit for occupation. This is inconsistent with the intent of property tax, which is a tax on property wealth that does not depend on whether the property is vacant or the reason for it being vacant.
5. With the change, owners whose properties are vacant due to repair works, will be taxed at owner-occupied rates, similar to properties that have been torn down and rebuilt, provided that the properties are intended for owner-occupation after the works are completed. Likewise, vacant properties held for investment purposes would be liable for property tax even if they are not rented out. The removal of the provisions for property tax refund will therefore ensure consistency in the tax treatment of all vacant properties. Clause 3 provides for this change.
6. Second, we will amend the Act to allow the Minister to prescribe the types of properties which will be subject to the progressive property tax rates introduced in Budget 2013. A more progressive tax regime on property wealth is socially equitable and has the added advantage of not hurting the competitiveness of our overall tax regime or reducing the incentives for enterprise. The change is provided for in Clauses 4, 5 and 6.
7. Third, Clauses 7 and 8 amend the Act to extend the deadline for objections and appeals on property tax assessments from the current 21 days to 30 days. This change gives taxpayers more time to evaluate and make more considered objections and appeals.
8. Mdm Speaker, I beg to move.